Into the ninth week of lockdown in Scotland, the message here and in Wales and Northern Ireland remains to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives. Only England has changed its message, amid no little confusion over what ‘stay alert’ means.
I was delighted to see the people of Scotland get behind the decision to stick with lockdown a bit longer, and it appears to be having the desired effect of continued progress in suppressing COVID-19.
In Orkney, this means that the number of confirmed cases as I write on Monday evening remains at seven, although true numbers are likely to be significantly higher and sadly two deaths in the county have been attributed to the virus.
The restrictions we put in place in March are working, although the positive effects remain fragile. Your cooperation by staying at home, except for essential purposes, is reducing the numbers of people becoming seriously ill and it is saving lives. The margins for ensuring the virus doesn’t take off again remain tight – we are at a pivotal point.
We understand that people are looking for some normality in their lives. The need to see our family and loved ones is a deeply human longing that will have impacted on all of us.
This Thursday the Scottish Government will publish a route map setting out our phased approach to easing lockdown measures.
There will be no wholesale changes though. We will continue to take a cautious approach that ensures the virus is suppressed, while seeking to restore as much normality as possible when it is safe to do so.
However, Thursday’s guidance will confirm that – assuming progress in suppressing the virus remains evident – the first phase will start from the next formal review date of 28 May.
It is encouraging to see our approach is being recognised. World Health Organisation special envoy David Nabarro was the latest to be impressed with how Scotland is handling the COVID-19 pandemic.
His words bear repeating here, for they encapsulate how the Scottish Government has set out to protect lives first and foremost, so that we are in as good shape as possible to restart the economy at the right time.
Mr Nabarro said:
“Comparing Scotland with other parts of Europe, other parts of the world, I’d say you’re doing good because you are tackling it carefully and logically.You are thinking through how do we make sure people are safe and how do we make sure the economy can restart? And you are layering these two together.
“There are some countries which are saying it’s either the economy or people’s health and they are presenting it as a choice. It’s not a choice.You are watching, learning, applying, coming to terms with it. And most importantly you are levelling with the people what the government is trying to work through.”
I can assure you that the Scottish Government will always level with the people of Scotland, no matter what the circumstances.
Stay strong folks.
This is a regular column by SNP MSP Maree Todd. All Highlands and Islands list MSPs have been offered the same space in The Orkney News to share their personal views.